WHEN we think of college campuses, the upper echelon of educational attainment in Zimbabwe, a bunch of students smoking marijuana, is not the first concept that comes to mind.
However, in most of our institutions of higher education, cigarette smoking has rapidly declined and there is rapid increase in the smoking of marijuana, abuse of prescription medicines, crystal meth, psychiatric medication, cough mixture,industrial alcohol and other emerging substances of abuse.
The drug culture that emerged in Europe, America and Asia in the 1960’s and 1970’s has emerged and it has invaded our institutions of learning. Drug culture is when a group of the population, usually young adults and adolescents, begin to idolise and emulate drugs, drug use , drug styles, drug concepts and drug beliefs as being the “in thing”.
Now this is happening in Zimbabwe and in most of our institutions of learning, the sorry part being that the primary scholars have also been exposed. Worse, no model of help has been prepared for this.
Marijuana (mbanje) has been the number one choice of drugs to many scholars in the past years, especially in institutions of higher learning. This has resulted in the emergence of various cocktails of drugs with marijuana contained in it.
Ganja cakes are a common trading drug in the institutions of higher learning and also in primary and high schools these are being traded within the institutions by the students themselves. Upon speaking to some students and questioning them if they perceived the risk of mbanje use, they said based on the Government announcement that it was to be legal to grow marijuana it simply meant that it was safe for recreation and medicinal use as such they saw the risk as quite negligible and this has led to some of their colleagues trying it out and have found that they cannot go throughout the day without having a joint. Institutions of learning they have turned into pharmaceutical sites as these days you find more medicinal drugs like the cough mixture and psychiatric drugs, than books as this drug culture grows and worsens due to the growing tolerance and addiction to the substances.
Empty “ngoma” cough mixture bottles are a common sight in these institutions and these students are not aware of the detriment of taking those substances.
This has seen a rise of patients admitted to mental hospitals among these young persons from institutes of higher learning.
Proper education awareness prevention and rehabilitation programmes are needed and are to be done by experts in the field of drug prevention and rehabilitation, who will not only be able to only polish up the subject but deal with it fully. Institutions of higher learning need these programmes in their orientation campuses if we are to remove these drug cultures that have invaded the institutions of learning.
Join the Rechabites in creating drug-free and healthy communities in 2019.
Mthandazo Ndlovu is a drug prevention and rehabilitation specialist. For help and more information contact 00263772399734 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.